Established in 2011, Nestlé Health Science is a health science company and a subsidiary of Nestlé. As a champion and a global leader in the science of nutrition, Nestlé Health Science aims to nourish those who need extra care, fill nutrition gaps and provide innovative products for a healthier future, enabling customers and patients to live their healthiest lives.
Nestlé nutritional supplements include a variety of medical foods. The OPTIFAST® Programme product range includes meal replacement shakes in a variety of flavours to be followed as part of a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) for weight management and is advised to be monitored by a healthcare professional.
VLCD stands for "Very Low Calorie Diet".
A VLCD is a low carbohydrate, total diet replacement for the dietary management of obesity. It provides 800 calories or less per day, whilst consisting of sufficient protein, fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals for safe and fast weight loss.
Very low calorie diets (also known as VLEDs or Very Low Energy Diets) have been shown to be very effective in the management of obesity, with weekly weight losses averaging approximately 1-2.5kg per week, providing greater initial weight loss than other forms of calorie restriction.
Reducing energy (calorie) intake to less than 800 calories as well as reducing carbohydrate intake leads to a whole body shift towards fat stores being utilised as the major source of energy through a process called ketosis. This results in consistent and successful weight loss.
In comparison, a formulated meal replacement means a single food or pre-packaged selection of foods that is sold as a replacement for one or two of the daily meals but not as a total diet replacement. A formulated meal replacement does not work by inducing ketosis to assist with weight loss. It works purely by restricting overall calorie intake.
The OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is a very low calorie diet program, which consists of 4 levels. The Intensive Level is the very low calorie diet part of the program, which is a total diet replacement providing up to 800 calories. Following this is the Active 2 Level, Active 1 Level, and Maintenance Level, where food is gradually re-introduced and OPTIFAST® VLCD products are reduced and then eliminated.
It is recommended to start the OPTIFAST VLCD Program at the Intensive Level for a period of up to 12 weeks, then gradually move through the next three levels of the program.
However, the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is designed to be flexible and to fit within individual needs. If you find that the Intensive Level is not suitable, you can consider starting the program on either the Active 2 or Active 1 Level, after consultation with your healthcare professional. On the Active 2 or Active 1 Levels of the program, your rate of weight loss will be slower than the Intensive Level. Please consult your healthcare professional to determine your suitability for the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program.
There are 3 Levels for active weight loss in the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program which are the Intensive Level, Active 2 and Active 1 Levels. Once you have achieved your goal you can move into Level 4 which is Maintenance.
Although most individuals will start at the Intensive Level and work their way through to the Maintenance Level, you can start at the Level that best suits your lifestyle needs and weight loss goals.
The Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is the Very Low Calorie Diet part of the program. It is a total diet replacement providing less than 800 calories per day. This level is designed to achieve a large initial weight loss whilst helping to preserve lean body mass. You can stay on this level for anywhere up to 12 weeks, however, this period is variable and depends on your weight loss goals. If there is still a significant amount of weight to be lost at the end of the initial 12 weeks, we recommend you follow the Active 2 Level for a minimum of two weeks before repeating the Intensive Level again. In some instances if you are doing well on the Intensive Level and still have more weight to lose at the end of the initial 12 week period, your healthcare professional may advise for you to stay on the Intensive Level for longer. It is very important to note that this should only be done under the instruction and supervision of your healthcare professional.
The OPTIFAST® VLCD Program Levels are intended to assist you to lose weight quickly. The goal of the remainder of the levels following completion of the Intensive Level is to assist you to continue to lose weight but also to develop healthy eating habits for the long term. By slowly re-introducing food back into your diet you are setting healthy new patterns that are sustainable for the rest of your life.
OPTIFAST® VLCD Program should always be used under the supervision of a healthcare professional. They may sometimes advise a different regimen based on your health needs.
CODEX Standard 203-1995 (International Food Standards) defines very low energy or calorie diets as containing 450-800kcal per day. This total calorie intake per day represents the products as well as additional foods consumed.
The Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is the Very Low Calorie Diet part of the program. It is a total diet replacement providing less than 800 calories per day. This level is designed to achieve a large initial weight loss whilst helping to preserve lean body mass. The recommended time frame for this level is anywhere up to 12 weeks. The only sources of nutrition during this level are 3 OPTIFAST VLCD products and two cups of low starch vegetables, plus one teaspoon of vegetable oil, providing less than 800 calories per day. Two litres of water should also be consumed each day. The Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program is designed to induce a mild ketosis to assist with weight loss.
On the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program, the Intensive Level is recommended for up to 12 weeks, however if you still have more weight to lose after the initial 12 weeks and would like to stay on the Intensive Level a little longer, then it is very important that you consult your healthcare professional to see if this is suitable for you. It is also important to do this under their supervision. Alternatively, if there is still a significant amount of weight to be lost at the end of the initial 12 weeks, we recommend you follow the Active 2 Level for a minimum of two weeks before repeating the Intensive Level again.
The Intensive Level is recommended for up to 12 weeks on the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program, however you can transition to the next level when you are advised to do so by your healthcare professional, or when you decide you are ready to move on. It is recommended to see an Accredited Practising Dietitian to help you transition and support you through the program.
Don’t transition sooner if you are experiencing some minor side-effects such as headaches, diarrhoea, fatigue or constipation. These symptoms are common and can be easily managed. Speak to your healthcare professional first so they can advise how to overcome or correct these before coming off the program.
After the Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program, you are ready to progress onto the Active 2 Level where the re-introduction of food takes place by replacing one OPTIFAST VLCD product with a calorie-controlled meal of approximately 350 calories. This should consist of a balanced meal of protein (eg. 65-100g meat or chicken, 130g fish, 2 eggs or 150g tofu), carbohydrates (1 cup cooked pasta, 3/4 cup cooked rice, 1 medium potato or corn cob, or 1-2 slices of bread), and half a plate of low starch vegetables or salad. Your two cups of low starch vegetable allowance can be incorporated into your low-calorie meal or if your calorie allowance allows, you can add it as extras to your meal plan. One tablespoon (20ml) of dressing or sauce can also be added to help flavour the meal. During the Active 2 Level you can also introduce a serve of fruit (70 calories) and a serve of dairy (100 calories).
As with any major dietary adjustment, the first few days on the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program can be the hardest. The OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is much easier to follow after the first few days due to a chemical reaction that occurs in your body, called ketosis. Although ketosis is a little uncomfortable to start with, it will eventually reduce your appetite and help manage your intake through the Intensive Level. The first few days on the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program are commonly known as the 3 day challenge. As the body transitions into ketosis, you may experience some transient side effects such as; fatigue, hunger, lack of concentration, nausea, headaches. These are the result of a large change in your diet, including a decrease in overall food intake as well as carbohydrates, which are the body’s preferred source of energy. These side effects are generally only short-lived while your body adjusts to the change and most symptoms will pass by days 4-6. If you are concerned about any side effects you are experiencing, please see your healthcare professional.
On this Level you replace 2 meals with OPTIFAST® VLCD products and include 1 healthy meal, which is approximately 350 calories. You can use any combination of OPTIFAST® VLCD products.
The Active 2 Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is suitable for:
• individuals with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25-30 or
• individuals who may find the Intensive Level too restrictive.
The Active 2 Level restricts calorie intake but not as much as the Intensive Level and if combined with regular exercise more gradual levels of weight loss can be achieved. Unlike the Intensive Level, the Active 2 Level doesn't work by inducing ketosis. It works purely by restricting calorie intake to approximately 1000 calories per day. During the Active 2 Level you will be replacing two meals each day with an OPTIFAST® VLCD product.
You will also need to have:
1 low-calorie meal (approximately 350 calories)
2 or more cups of low starch vegetables
2 litres of water or calorie-free fluids (minimum)
1 serve of fruit (approximately 70 calories)
1 serve of dairy (approximately 100 calories)
This Level brings your total food intake, including your OPTIFAST® VLCD products, to approximately 1000 calories a day. The length of time that you are on this level will depend on your lifestyle needs and weight loss goals.
Yes, some people may choose to start on the Active 2 Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program or are advised to do so by a healthcare professional. The Active 2 Level is suitable for people who require significant weight loss. This level restricts calorie intake but not as much as the Intensive level. Alternatively, if it is easier to start with one meal replacement and slowly build up then you may choose to start on the Active 1 Level.
The Active 1 Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program continues to work by restricting calories, which on Active 1 Level are approximately 1200 calories per day.
During the Active 1 Level you will be replacing 1 meal with an OPTIFAST® VLCD product. You will also need to have:
2 low-calorie meals (approximately 350 calories each)
2 or more cups of low starch vegetables
2 litres of water or calorie-free fluids (minimum)
2 serves of fruit (around 70 calories each)
1 serve of dairy (around 100 calories)
This level brings your total food intake, including your OPTIFAST® VLCD product, to approximately 1200 calories per day. The length of time that you are on this level will depend on your lifestyle needs and weight loss goals.
The Active 1 Level can be used as a meal replacement program for individuals with a BMI of 25-30 kg/m2 who want to lose weight but for whom the Intensive Level is not recommended.
Some people may choose to stay on the Active 1 Level long term as part of a long term weight management strategy.
In this level, a third low calorie meal is introduced and the OPTIFAST® VLCD products are eliminated. Dietary intake now consists of: 3 calorie-controlled meals (approximately 350 calories each), at least 2 cups of low-starch vegetables, 2 serves of fruit, 1 serve of dairy and 2 litres of water. The total calorie intake is approximately 1500 calories. The nutrition component of this level requires ongoing monitoring for meal plan adjustments and education. See your healthcare professional for ongoing support and guidance to ensure that the calorie content of this level is right for you.
Your calorie-controlled or low-calorie meal should be around 350 calories. Aim for 1 serve or ¼ of your plate to be protein (100g meat or chicken, 130g white flesh fish, 2 eggs or 150g tofu), 1 serve or ¼ or your plate to be grains (2 slices of bread, 1 cup cooked pasta, ¾ cup of rice or 1 medium potato) and fill half the plate with low starch vegetables or salad. You can also include 1 tbsp of a sauce or dressing. This plate concept will help to keep your meal under 350 calories. Alternatively, check out the calorie- controlled recipes in the recipe section of the website. Each recipe indicates how many calories per serve.
Speak to your healthcare professional about your protein requirements. If your requirements cannot be met by the standard OPTIFAST® VLCD range, you may benefit from using OPTIFAST® VLCD ProteinPlus.
Yes, OPTIFAST® VLCD ProteinPlus can be used on any level of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program in place of the standard OPTIFAST VLCD products
There are no mandatory changes needed to the standard OPTIFAST® VLCD Program levels when you choose to include OPTIFAST® VLCD ProteinPlus in place of OPTIFAST® VLCD standard range. There is an optional choice to omit the oil on the Intensive level if desired as there is adequate fat content in 3 x OPTIFAST® VLCD ProteinPlus to justify the removal of the oil.
Speak to your healthcare professional to determine if extra protein is needed. With intakes greater than 3 sachets per day, or the addition of 1 serve of protein, calorie intake may be greater than 800 calories per day.
There should be no differing effects during the first week of the Intensive level when using OPTIFAST® VLCD ProteinPlus compared to the standard range.
The product range of OPTIFAST® VLCD Soups are currently not available in South Africa.
Yes. You can use more than 200-250 ml of water when preparing OPTIFAST® VLCD Shakes. Water has no calories or carbohydrates so additional water will be beneficial for your hydration, as well as helping to sustain your appetite.
We don't recommend that you substitute the water for skim milk when making up your OPTIFAST® VLCD products when on the Intensive Level. The skim or low fat milk will provide additional calories as well as carbohydrates which may affect ketosis and therefore slow down or inhibit your weight loss. If, however, you are on the Active 1 or Active 2 levels, you can use skim milk to make up your OPTIFAST VLCD Shakes and count this as your 1 serve of dairy allowance.
Yes, you can try various things to enhance the variety of OPTIFAST® VLCD products, providing it does not provide additional calories. Try adding flavoured essence to the OPTIFAST VLCD Shakes or place the chocolate mousse in the freezer for 20 minutes to make a chocolate ice cream. Add curry powder or chilli flakes to the OPTIFAST® VLCD Soups for a little kick.
Yes you can put the OPTIFAST® VLCD Dessert in the freezer for about 20 minutes or so to make a great tasting chocolate or lemon ice cream. However, if left in the freezer too long the functionality of the thickener may be affected resulting in the product being more liquid than normal once it is thawed.
Low starch vegetables are vegetables with a low carbohydrate content. These are usually green vegetables and include: alfalfa sprouts, asparagus, bean sprouts, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, capsicum, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuce (all types), leeks, mushrooms, onions, radish, shallots, silverbeet, snow peas, spinach, squash, tomatoes, watercress, and zucchini. High starch vegetables are generally root vegetables and potatoes.
Either is fine - as long as you consume at least two cups! The vegetables listed above are very low calorie and it does not matter if you measure them raw or after you have cooked them.
The OPTIFAST® VLCD Program calls for two cups a day, but doubling that quantity makes little difference to your weight loss. They are great for hydration, extra fibre, vitamins and adding bulk to your diet - crunch away!
For optimal results it is best to stick to the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program as outlined in all our product information. The allowed vegetables not only provide additional vitamins and minerals they also provide fibre. Having something to eat each day also makes handling social situations a lot easier and increases compliance. You can be quite inventive with your vegetables; you don’t have to just eat a bowl of plain steamed vegetables each day. You can have them raw as a salad or stir-fried with 1 tsp. vegetable oil. You can also add some condiments, herbs and spices to make them more interesting as well. Blending your allowed vegetables with some stock also makes a great option for winter.
We do recommend eating the vegetables rather than a vegetable juice, as the allowed vegetables not only provide additional vitamins and minerals, they also provide fibre which is removed once you juice or blend them. In addition, having something to eat each day makes handling social situations a lot easier and increases compliance. It is fine on occasions to substitute a vegetable juice however you need to make sure that it is a vegetable juice only and not a vegetable and fruit blend as this may be too high in carbohydrates. 125ml of vegetable juice is equivalent to 1 cup of vegetables, therefore if having vegetable juice instead of the vegetables or salad, try to keep it to no more than 250-500ml per day.
Fruit is not recommended during the Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program. Fruit is naturally high in sugar and in order for the body to start burning fat via ketosis it is best to avoid fruit as this can deter the ketosis process and compromise weight loss. If you feel like something sweet, try low calorie jellies or lollies. Alternatively, for a snack, try carrot or celery sticks. Fruit can be added back into the diet during the Active 2 Level of the program.
A serving of fruit should contain around 50-70 calories and 10-15g of carbohydrate. Examples of a serving of fruit could be: 1 ½ punnets of strawberries, 4 lychees, 2 apricots, 200g cooked rhubarb, 2 slices pineapple, 3-4 passion fruit, ½ cup of grapes, 1 small apple, 15 cherries, 1 medium orange, 1 medium peach, 1 small pear, 2 small plums, 3 prunes, 120g diced fruit in natural juice, ¾ cup blueberries, 1 kiwi fruit, ½ mango and 1-2 mandarins.
A serving of dairy should have around 100 calories. Examples of a serivng of dairy could be: 250ml glass of low fat milk, 30g reduced fat cheese, 1 scoop of low fat ice-cream, 1 tub ~ 150g low fat yoghurt or 1/3 cup cottage cheese.
Yes. You are allowed diet drinks and diet lollies as long as they do not contain any sugar and have minimal kilojoules. It is important to note that many of these foods can cause gastrointestinal side-effects so it is advisable to keep them to a minimum.
The inclusion of a teaspoon (5ml) of vegetable oil a day on the Intensive Level ensures that sufficient fat is consumed. This is particularly important for those who are at risk of developing gallstones as the fat will help to stimulate the emptying of the gallbladder. This teaspoon of vegetable oil is often incorporated with the vegetables or salad.
Yes, the OPTIFAST® VLCD ProteinPlus products contain sufficient amounts of fat, therefore when consuming 3 per day, the addition of oil is not required unless desired for taste.
Alcohol is not recommended during the Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program as it can put extra strain on your liver and kidneys. Alcohol also has a diuretic effect as well as contains extra calories which will slow down your weight loss progress. As part of your OPTIFAST® VLCD Program, choose low energy/calorie drinks instead - such as soda water with a spritz of lemon or lime.
Yes, including tea and coffee in the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is fine. Try and keep your intake to no more than 3-4 cups per day and have them with no milk or about 30ml of skim/low fat milk and no sugar.
The following conditions are contraindicated for the Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program:
• Normal weight (BMI <25kg m2)
• Children < 18 years
• Presence of Porphyria
• Recent myocardial infarction or unstable angina
• Severe/advanced renal or liver failure
Precautions may need to be taken when using the OPTIFAST VLCD Program if you present with any of the following:
• Age >65 years
• History of severe psychological disturbance, alcoholism or drug abuse
• Cholelithiasis or past history of gallstones
• Fertility issues
It is essential that you seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional who can help manage and advise you on which level of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program is right for your weight management needs.
The Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program (replacing all 3 meals with OPTIFAST® VLCD products) is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding as it is not designed to meet the increased nutritional demands of lactation. Speak to your healthcare professional about whether Active 2 or Active 1 Levels are appropriate for you.
As the program is contraindicated during pregnancy, it is not appropriate to go on the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program if you are planning to become pregnant in case you become pregnant and are not aware. The low carbohydrate and calorie content as well as the quantity of vitamins and minerals are not sufficient to meet the increased nutrient requirements of pregnancy (e.g. iron and some B group vitamins). In addition, the low carbohydrate content is designed to induce ketosis (fat breakdown) which leads to ketones in the blood. Although the level of ketones is fairly low, the effect on the foetus is unknown.
There are no active ingredients in the OPTIFAST® VLCD products that will directly interact with any medications. It is mainly that the weight loss process can affect the efficacy of some medications and some medications will impact your weight loss goals. Therefore, if you are on any medication it is very important to consult your doctor prior to commencing the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program.
It is recommended that OPTIFAST® VLCD be taken under the supervision of a healthcare professional such as a pharmacist, doctor, hospital specialist or dietitian. Medical conditions and medications must be taken into consideration prior to deciding if the program is appropriate for you. As well as this, research has shown that having the support and guidance of a healthcare professional will make the program far more successful as the plan can be tailored to your needs.
Ketosis is a metabolic reaction that occurs in your body when following the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program Intensive Level. This means your body shifts from using primarily carbohydrates to using fats as an energy source, resulting in a reduction of body fat stores.
Ketones provide an alternative fuel source derived from fat when carbohydrates are in short supply. It has been suggested that ketosis may suppress appetite, which helps make following the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program Intensive Level much easier. As the Intensive Level causes only a mild ketosis, it is a safe approach to weight loss.
Prior to the transition into ketosis, you will most likely feel hungry and you may experience some side effects such fatigue, lack of concentration, nausea and headaches.
These side effects should only last about 3 days and most symptoms usually pass by days 4-6. This is what we refer to as the ‘3 day challenge’. Following the initial 3-day challenge, you will experience an increase in energy and reduction in appetite, which, in the Intensive Level, will result in consistent and successful weight loss. It is important to know that these are typical symptoms and you should try to stick to the program as prescribed or otherwise you will simply pro-long these uncomfortable first few days of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program.
Of course, if you are concerned about your symptoms or if they persist, speak to a healthcare professional such as your doctor, dietitian or pharmacist as they can advise how to overcome or correct these symptoms before coming off the program.
The amount of carbohydrate required to induce ketosis depends on a number of factors and can actually vary from day to day depending on activity levels and fluid intake. A diet containing 50-70g of carbohydrates is generally considered low enough to produce ketones but there is no absolute level that guarantees ketone production. The OPTIFAST VLCD Program will keep your carbohydrate intake to below 70g per day and generally only produces a mild ketosis.
Once your body is in ketosis, any excess ketones that your body does not use for energy are excreted via your urine and breath (thus the incidence of bad breath in some cases). Measuring ketone levels can be used as a guide to assessing compliance. It is not compulsory to measure ketone levels but some people may find it useful. Ketones can be measured via urine, breath or blood. Also monitoring symptoms and side-effects can also be a good indication of whether you are in ketosis.
The OPTIFAST® VLCD Intensive Level only causes a mild ketosis therefore urine ketone levels will only show approximately 0.5-1.5mmol/L. Urinary ketone levels can be higher early on in the program so can be a good initial indicator of compliance however levels excreted in the urine decrease as the body starts to use more of them as energy. If you are losing weight steadily, then there is no need to be concerned. You can rely on the other symptoms of ketosis such as a reduction in your appetite and change in your breath as a guide instead.
All the OPTIFAST® VLCD products contain some quantity of lactose. The amount of lactose may be tolerated by some people, however it can be individual and it may be a matter of trial and error to see what products you can manage. You could also seek advice from your healthcare professional about lactase enzyme tablets, which may be taken with your OPTIFAST VLCD products. Lactase enzyme tablets are available from your local pharmacy.
• OPTIFAST® VLCD Chocolate Shake – 9.0g per serving
• OPTIFAST® VLCD Vanilla Flavour Shake – 9.5g per serving
• OPTIFAST® VLCD Strawberry Flavour Shake – 9.5g per serving
• OPTIFAST® VLCD Coffee Shake – 8.5g per serving
• OPTIFAST® VLCD Protein Plus Chocolate Shake - 0.63 g per serving
• OPTIFAST® VLCD Lemon Crème Dessert -8.0g per serving
• OPTIFAST® VLCD Berry Crunch Flavour Bar - 0.12 g per serving
The OPTIFAST® VLCD and Desserts are gluten free and are suitable for people with Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance. The OPTIFAST VLCD Berry Crunch Flavour Bars do not contain gluten containing ingredients however, are made on equipment that also processes oats. Although there are no gluten-containing ingredients in this product, there is a chance of gluten contamination, therefore, the Berry Crunch Flavour Bars are not suitable for those with Coeliac Disease or gluten intolerance.
Yes, all of the OPTIFAST® VLCD products contain soy based ingredients such as soy lecithin or soy protein isolate.
The OPTIFAST® VLCD products are not formulated to contain egg, nuts, or ingredients derived from these. All OPTIFAST® VLCD Bars are produced on equipment that also processes products containing tree nuts, peanuts & oats. Therefore, these products may contain traces of these ingredients, so best avoided if you are highly allergic to them.
The OPTIFAST® VLCD products may not be suitable for those on a low FODMAP diet, as each product contains at least one high FODMAP ingredient. For some people, it may only be certain FODMAP ingredients that affect them and need to be avoided. Therefore, some OPTIFAST® VLCD products may be more suitable than others.
Pre-operative weight loss is desirable to optimise the safety of surgery in obese patients scheduled for bariatric surgery, by reducing the likelihood of conversion from laparoscopic to an open procedure. Pre-operative weight loss can also improve respiratory mechanics and biomedical factors associated with obesity, reduce the severity of co-morbidities and minimise operating and recovery times.
Very Low Calorie Diets such as the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program are not recommended in children under 18 years of age as they are not designed for growing individuals. Any use of the program for children under 18 years must be done at the discretion of the healthcare professional, and include medical supervision and monitoring.
The Intensive Level of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is not recommended for use in persons over the age of 65 years, due to differing needs of this age group. Any use of the program for adults over 65 years must be done at the discretion of the healthcare professional, and include medical supervision and monitoring. Care must be taken to ensure nutritional requirements are met, in particular protein.
There are 2 different criteria used to determine suitability for the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program:
1. Using Body Mass Index:
The OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is suitable for people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or above or those with a BMI of 27 kg/m2 with risk factors, poor mobility, or a need for weight reduction prior to surgery. Risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, family history of heart disease, sleep apnoea.
2. Using Waist Circumference:
You are considered to be at high risk and therefore eligible for the Program if, as a male your waist circumference is above 102 cm or as a woman, if your waist circumference is above 88cm. Medical supervision is always advised especially if there are risk factors or other co-morbidities. Ensure you talk to a healthcare professional before commencing the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program.
Whilst the focus of the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program is on weight loss, it is just as important to identify behaviours and strategies for successful weight maintenance. The Maintenance Level is designed to help you maintain a consistent body weight via a controlled calorie intake and energy output. This level requires ongoing monitoring for meal plan adjustments and education in order to ensure long term weight management. Speak to your dietitian or healthcare professional about management strategies for weight maintenance and to ensure the calorie component of your Maintenance Level plan is right for you.
When commencing on the Intensive Level (replacing all 3 meals per day with an OPTIFAST® VLCD) the body switches over to using body fat as an energy source. This process is called ketosis. It is this process which enables you to achieve such great weight loss, however it does have the potential to induce a few undesired symptoms during the first few days of starting the program whilst your body adjusts to metabolising fats for energy instead of carbohydrates.
These symptoms may include fatigue, hunger, lack of concentration, vagueness-fuzzy, headedness, headaches (which can be worse if also giving up caffeine). These are only transient and most will pass by days 4-6.
Some other symptoms you may also experience whilst on OPTIFAST® VLCD which are generally a result of the fast weight loss rather than the OPTIFAST® VLCD products itself are sensitivity to cold, dry skin, temporary rash, postural hypotension, fatigue, diarrhoea, constipation, halitosis (bad breath), irritability and menstrual disturbances. Whilst these side effects may seem concerning, some people will experience none of these and others will only experience a few. They are not significant enough to warrant stopping the program and a few modifications to the diet can reduce their severity or occurrence all together. If you are concerned at all about any side-effects please consult your healthcare professional for further advice and management.
As with any major dietary adjustment, the first few days on the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program can be difficult and is commonly known as the 3 day challenge. As the body transitions into ketosis, you may experience some transient side effects such as fatigue, hunger, lack of concentration, nausea, headaches. Typically, only mild ketosis occurs during the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program and most symptoms pass by days 4-6.
Diarrhoea can be a temporary side effect of taking OPTIFAST® VLCD and should pass with time. If diarrhoea continues for more than a week consult your doctor or healthcare professional.
Do not worry if you have a little bad breath or halitosis whilst using OPTIFAST VLCD. This is caused by the process called ketosis where your body switches over to burning fat stores and will only last whilst you are following the Intensive Level. Acetone is a ketone by product that is produced in the body when you are in ketosis and can result in a nail polish-like smell on your breath. Not everyone will experience this and if you do it will only last whilst you are following the Intensive Level. Chewing on low-calorie mints, sugar free chewing gum or even some parsley can be very effective in managing this.
Bloating / increased flatulence may be caused by the change in diet. If there is more fibre in your new regimen due to increased intake of vegetables, this may result in some bloating. Some people find that they feel bloated because they are drinking a lot more fluid than usual. The bloating /increased flatulence is usually transient and resolves quickly so keep progressing with the program. Alternatively, if you are lactose or fructose intolerant you may be experiencing some gastrointestinal symptoms as all the OPTIFAST VLCD products contain lactose and the bars also contain fructose. If you believe this is the case please consult your healthcare professional for further advice and management.
Don't worry, you can still enjoy social occasions whilst on the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program. Try having your OPTIFAST VLCD product prior to going out and choose a low starch salad or vegetables. Try a miso soup, stir-fry vegetables, or a garden salad with a dressing on the side (no creamy sauces). If possible, skip the protein and carbohydrates on offer. If you must eat something other than just vegetables or salad, do not have the OPTIFAST® VLCD product for that meal and opt for a small portion of protein such as 100g meat or chicken, some fish or eggs. If possible avoid any of the carbohydrates on offer as this will affect ketosis. Remember it is important not to drink alcohol whilst on the Intensive Level of the Program. Try some mineral water with a spritz of lemon or lime instead.
It is recommended to do 30-60 minutes of exercise on most days as part of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program including the Intensive Level. In general, no additional food is required. If just starting out with exercise it is important to establish a baseline which can be improved upon each week. If you are at all concerned about your ability to exercise consult a healthcare professional first.
The OPTIFAST® VLCD Intensive Level (minimum of three OPTIFAST® VLCD products plus two cups of vegetables) is designed to meet the recommended dietary intake for most people. Therefore additional supplementation is not necessary unless there has been a pre-existing nutritional deficiency diagnosed when starting the OPTIFAST® VLCD Program. If additional supplementation is desired, care would need to be taken that recommended safe levels of vitamins, minerals and trace elements are not exceeded. Therefore we would recommend that you consult your healthcare professional for more individual advice.
If you are already taking fish oil tablets then it is not absolutely necessary to include the one tsp vegetable oil in your OPTIFAST® VLCD Program. However, given that one fish oil tablet is only about 10 calories you can continue to take these and still include your tsp of vegetable oil if you wish. The tsp of vegetable oil each day is recommended for those at risk or has a history of developing gallstones.
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